DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 16th March 2009

UK DVD Releases 16-03-09


W. (Lionsgate): Oliver Stone’s quickly assembled biopic of George W Bush is a much more accomplished and thoughtful film than some UK reviews would have had you believes.

Starring Josh Brolin as Bush, it explores his life in flashback through the lens of the Iraq War in 2002-2004.

An impressive cast includes Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush), Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney), Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) and Toby Jones (Karl Rove) and the performances are generally very good, especially Brolin in what is a very tough role.

The script by Stanley Weiser and Stone does a fine job at compressing Bush’s life through the lens of it’s defining episode.

The film deserves credit for attempting to get inside the head of the maligned president and not just indulging in a blunt hatchet job.

However, the tepid box office reaction suggested that the the nuances of the film got lost amongst liberal haters and the conservative champions and those in the middle just trying to forget him.

The plan for the film (independently financed with Chinese, German and Australian money) was for a timely release around the recent election.

But the election race itself overshadowed it by being more exciting than any script writer could have imagined, whilst Bush himself was consigned to the shadows for his final year in office by the likes of Barack Obama, Joe the Plumper, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey.

Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray disc include:

  • Audio Commentary with director Oliver Stone
  • Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency
  • No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary by Director Oliver Stone

Elegy (Entertainment In Video): The latest adaptation of a Philip Roth novel hits the big screen with Ben Kingsley playing a cultural critic afraid of committing to a relationship with a younger woman (Penélope Cruz).

Although Roth has often been poorly served on the big screen, the choice of Isabel Coixet to direct proved an inspired one as she coaxes out fine performances from an impressive cast that also includes Dennis HopperPatricia ClarksonPeter Sarsgaard and Debbie Harry

It didn’t do huge business at the box office but definitely deserves a look on DVD if you missed it at cinemas.

The only extras on the DVD are ‘Soundbites’ and ‘B-Roll footage’.  

Easy Virtue (Pathe): A social comedy based on Noel Coward’s play of the same name which was itself  made into a silent movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928.

This version has been reshaped by director by Stephan Elliott as a much frothier concoction and stars Jessica Biel as an American socialite who marries a young Englishman (Ben Barnes) in the South of France before going to England to meet his stiff, upper-crust parents (Colin Firth, and Kristin Scott Thomas).

Whilst the setup might sound very familiar, the end result is actually a much more energetic affair with more laughs than you might expect.

Biel in particular, impresses in her most substantial role to date and Elliott wisely doesn’t take things too seriously but at the same time also gets in some nice digs at the joyless nature of the British upper classes.

Extras include: 

  • Making of Documentary
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Photo Gallery
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Jessica Biel Music Video (TBC)

* Listen to our interview with Stephan Elliot & Colin Firth about Easy Virtue *



4:30 (Peccadillo Pictures)
88 Minutes (Warner)
A Mind To Kill – Complete Series 1 (Network)
After… (Optimum)
Baby Mama (Universal)
Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World (Universal)
Brothers & Sisters – Season 2 (Disney)
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen (2 Entertain)
Dolphins (Sony)
Eagle Eye (Paramount)
Espionage – The Complete Series (Network)
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People (Paramount)
Lady in White – Director’s Cut (Optimum)
Marple: The Collection (ITV DVD)
Minder (Fremantle)
Minder: The Complete Series (Fremantle)
Pride and Prejudice – Special Edition (2 Entertain)
Private Practice – Season 1 (Disney)
Smother (Optimum)
Sophie Scholl – Special Edition (ICA)
Space Buddies (Disney)
Strawberry and Chocolate (Mr. Bongo Films)
The Antichrist (Optimum)
The Duchess (Pathe)
The IT Crowd – Series 3 (2 Entertain)
The Oblong Box (Optimum)
The Rage (Anchor Bay)
The Women (EIV)
Thérèse Raquin (Optimum)
Vacancy (Sony)
War, Inc. (Lionsgate)
Woman Times Seven (Optimum)
Yangtse Incident (Optimum)

> Buy W.Elegy and Easy Virtue at Amazon UK
> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 13th March)

London Film Festival

LFF 2008: Day 8

 W. press screening

Today was the day of the European premiere of W., the new Oliver Stone film about President George W. Bush.

It screened as the Times Gala at the Odeon Leicester Square, The (London) Times of course being the sponsor of the London film festival.

I went to the press show in the morning and although I had some doubts going in, must confess I really rather liked it.

I’ll post a longer review in a separate post, but one of the most interesting aspects was the reaction of other people who saw it too. 

One person I spoke to afterwards said they were upset Stone didn’t ‘nail Bush’ (quite an image that) and another expressed his surprise that he didn’t know what Stone thought of Bush (?!). 

I suspect it will be a film divides viewers, but not necessarily along the lines one might suspect. 

Added to all this, I had the surreal experience of David Frost sitting right near me just a few minutes before the film started.

In the same cinema just over a week ago I saw a film about him and President Nixon and now I was sitting near him before a film about President Bush.

W. kicked off what was a really busy day in which I also saw Che, The Class and The Wrestler

So by the end of it all I was really, really tired.

> W. at the IMDb
> Reviews of W. at Metacritic
> Find out more about George W. Bush at Wikipedia

Interesting News Technology

W. Mashup Contest

Lionsgate and YouTube have partnered for a W. mashup contest in which users can create and submit their own videos based on the upcoming Oliver Stone film about the 43rd US president.

The director himself explains the contest in this video:

Submissions close on October 17th and you can find out more at the film’s official YouTube channel.

W. opens in the US on October 17th and in the UK on November 7th

> Official site for W.
> Oliver Stone discusses the movie with GQ
> Check out images and on set footage from W.


Latest W. trailer

Although I had serious reservations about anyone making a film about George W. Bush before his presidency had even ended, I’m starting to think that Oliver Stone‘s W. is not only going to deliver the goods but maybe a possible awards contender.

The latest trailer – set to Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads – does a great job of distilling W’s life and career in under 2 minutes.

If the film delivers on the promise of this spot then it could be something really special.

On a related note, W. is being screened at the London Film Festival on October 23rd and 24th and on Tuesday 28th there is a talk at the BFI Southbank entitled ‘Cinema under George W Bush: Eight Years of Attack and Counter Attack‘.

> Official site for W.
> Oliver Stone discusses the movie with GQ
> Check out images and on set footage from W.

Interesting News

Oliver Stone on W. in GQ

Oliver Stone has given a revealing Q&A interview to Dan Fierman of GQ

It focuses mainly on W. – his upcoming biopic of George W. Bush but branches into other areas.

There are some fairly juicy quotes.

On Bush:

I think that was always the attraction. I always thought of Nixon as like my father. Nixon was like a father to my generation, but it was the behavior of the man that reminded me ofmy father. Bush is my generation. It’s the behavior of me, the culture of me.

On the budget of W. and the casting of Josh Brolin:

And we were turned down by everybody for money, including your Aunt Gertrude. It was humiliating. I make no bones about it. I think this is a great subject. I don’t think I have a bad track record. I needed a star, though, and Josh Brolin was not a star.

Originally I went for Christian Bale. We did some rigorous prosthetic tests and spent a lot of dough—thousands and thousands of dollars—and then Christian said, “I just don’t feel like I can do it.” I met Josh and liked him. He was more rural Americana. But man, he was scared shitless.

On the leaking of the script earlier this year:

That wasn’t a media strategy. That was an outrageous leak by a company called Participant. One of their assistants was trying to make a few bucks, and he sold it, and then it was everywhere.

There were articles everywhere destroying it, historians trashing what we’d done. We didn’t want that. All because of an assistant. Christ.

On the punch up in Shreveport, Louisiana:

The cops came to this bar. They arrested Jeffrey because the bartender had a hair up his ass about this uppity black man from the North. And contrary to reports, he was not drunk. I was there. He was arrested because he had words with the cops.

As for Brolin? It was the first night he had had a couple of drinks the whole time we were shooting. He had been sober for five months for the role, so he let loose a little bit and they got him, too.

On the problems with Warner Bros whilst making Alexander

If I had the guts, I would have done the Sergio Leone three-hour cut for Europe and butchered it for Warner Bros. And I would have taken out the homosexuality, which is what Warners really objected to.

They have told my people that they don’t want to work with me again. I should have just said, “Okay, guys, go for it. Just make your cut.”

And it would have been a much shorter, truncated film, and who knows, it might have made more than $32 million. It might have made fifty-two. Eighty-two. Who knows? You don’t have any idea how big an issue the homosexuality was. Especially when it comes to a military movie.

And on Pinkville, the planned film about the My Lai massacre that UA got cold feet on last year:

We had our locations, we had our actors, we had everything picked out, and it was a very reasonable plan.

Then Bruce Willis walked, and they were thrilled, because that gave them the final excuse to call it, even though we got Nicholas Cage.

That was three weeks before shooting and right before Christmas. Let me remind you, that’s 120 Americans and 500 Thais put out of work right before Christmas.

It was a cruel, heartless decision, and it was probably made because [UA’s] Lions for Lambs was perceived as a mess, a failure, and we were linked to these Iraq movies that weren’t working.

….And I have UA going on and on about “Do the bad guys have to be Americans?”

Read the full Q&A at GQ.

> Oliver Stone at the IMDb
> Check out images and on set footage from W.

In Production News Posters

W. teaser posters and on set footage

When it was announced that Oliver Stone was to make a feature film about George W. Bush simply called W. my first reaction was that it was too soon.

Surely some distance and perspective was needed on a film about one of the most divisive Presidents in US history?

Plus, the schedule for the film seemed rather ambitious – it started shooting in May for a November release, which by current Hollywood standards seemed rather quick.

However, I have to admit that the cast he has assembled is impressive:

Plus, the early leaked trailer that surfaced recently looked much more promising than I had expected.

Now, two more teaser posters have been released which seem to hint at a savvy marketing campaign from Lionsgate and their agency Crew Creative.

Plus, Access Hollywood has just released some footage of Josh Brolin as the 43rd President – it appears to be B-roll footage shot on the set which is why the green screen backdrop is visible.

After the critical mauling of Alexander and the restrained sorrow of World Trade Centre, I imagine Oliver Stone is hungry to return to the fire and energy of his earlier films.

Could this be the film to return him to former glories?

We shall find out on November 7th, when it opens in the US and UK.

> W. at the IMDb
> First images from the movie
> More information on the film at Wikipedia

In Production Trailers

Trailer: W.

This is the leaked trailer for W. the new Oliver Stone film about George W. Bush.

(It is possible that this may get taken down from YouTube at some point)

UPDATE 01/08/08: The UK release date is now confirmed as November 7th 2008.

The key cast and characters are:

> W. at the IMDb
> First images from the movie
> More information on the film at Wikipedia

Images In Production News

Josh Brolin as George W Bush

Shooting is about to begin on W., Oliver Stone’s upcoming biopic of George W. Bush, with Josh Brolin playing the 43rd president of the United States.

EW has a cover story on the film, with the first photos of Brolin as Bush and an interview with Stone.

Stone promises it will be a ‘fair’ portrait of the president:

I think history is going to be very tough on him. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a great story.

It’s almost Capra-esque, the story of a guy who had very limited talents in life, except for the ability to sell himself.

The fact that he had to overcome the shadow of his father and the weight of his family name — you have to admire his tenacity. There’s almost an Andy Griffith quality to him, from A Face in the Crowd.

If Fitzgerald were alive today, he might be writing about him. He’s sort of a reverse Gatsby.

He also recalls meeting Bush at a Republican breakfast in 1998 when he was Governor of Texas:

I don’t usually go to breakfast with anybody, but I wanted to prove that even though people thought I was a leftist I wanted to hear what they had to say.

It was funny, though — the minute I walked in the room the sound of the silverware kind of died. People were like, ‘What’s he doing here? Satan has walked in.

But I met George Bush and I remember thinking that this man was going to be president. There was just a confidence and enthusiasm I’d never seen in a candidate before, especially in a Republican.

Here is a comparison of the real Bush and the Brolin version:

What do you think?

UPDATE 12/05/08: Lionsgate have acquired US and UK distribution rights for W.

Here is the official press release:

SANTA MONICA, CA (May 8, 2008)LIONSGATE®(NYSE: LGF), the leading independent filmed entertainment studio, announced today that in a deal with Omnilab Media it has acquired North American distribution rights from QED International to W, a biopic about President George W. Bush directed by Academy Award® winner Oliver Stone (WORLD TRADE CENTER, PLATOON, WALL STREET) from a screenplay by Stanley Weiser (WALL STREET). Lionsgate will also distribute W in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.  The announcement was made today by Lionsgate President of Theatrical Films Tom Ortenberg.

W stars Josh Brolin (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) as George W. Bush, Elizabeth Banks (SEABISCUIT) as Laura Bush, James Cromwell (THE QUEEN) as George Herbert Walker Bush, Academy Award® winner Ellen Burstyn (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) as Barbara Bush, Thandie Newton (CRASH) as Condoleezza Rice, Jeffrey Wright (SYRIANA) as Colin Powell, Scott Glenn (THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM) as Donald Rumsfeld, and Ioan Gruffud (FANTASTIC FOUR) as Tony Blair.  The film’s producers are Moritz Borman, Jon Kilik and Bill Block.

W begins production on May 12th in Louisiana.  Lionsgate is releasing the film in the US on October 17, 2008.

“It’s an honor to be in business with Oliver Stone, a brilliant and consistently adventurous filmmaker,” said Ortenberg.  “With W, he again demonstrates his creative vitality and genius for speaking to our times.”

Commented Block, “W is in the most innovative hands with Lionsgate and Omnilab Media. With the backdrop of the election this fall, W will be an event picture that will be eagerly anticipated.  Oliver Stone, Moritz Borman and myself could not be more excited about Lionsgate leading the charge this October.”

Christopher Mapp said, “We had a great experience with Lionsgate on THE BANK JOB, and we are delighted to reunite with them as we continue our strategy in investing in quality films that are made by innovative and unique storytellers.”

Said Stone, “The impact of George W. Bush’s presidency will be felt for many years to come.  Despite a meteoric, almost illogical rise to power, and a tremendous influence on the world, we don’t really know much about Mr. Bush beyond the controlled images we’ve been allowed to see on TV.  This movie’s taking a bold stab at looking behind that curtain.  I’m real pleased that Liongate has the independence necessary to bring this provocative story to an American audience.”

Financing the film alongside QED are Omnilab Media, led by Christopher Mapp, David Whealy and Matthew Street; China-based Emperor Group, led by Albert Yeung and Feron Lau; Condor Films, led by Thomas Sterchi; and Global Entertainment Group, led by Johnny Hon, Adam Palin and Teresa Cheung.

The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by Ortenberg, Wendy Jaffe, Executive Vice President Legal & Business Affairs, Acquisitions and Co-Productions, and Zygi Kamsa, Chief Executive Officer Lionsgate UK; for Omnilab Media by Managing Director Christopher Mapp, Executive Director Matthew Street and Executive Producer David Whealy; and for QED International by Bill Block, Chief Executive Officer, and Paul Hanson, Chief Operating Officer.

Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory.  In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone is bringing the life of our 43rd President to the big screen as only he can.  W takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life — his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

QED is a Beverly Hills based independent film company that represents theatrical motion picture projects for sales and distribution in the worldwide marketplace. The company also acquires, develops, finances and produces its own motion pictures, either independently or in partnership with major studios, talent, and key foreign distributors.

QED Managing Partners include CEO, Bill Block; Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales & Distribution, Kimberly Fox; Chief Operating Officer, Paul Hanson; and Vice President of Production, Elliot Ferwerda.

Omnilab Media is an Australian and New Zealand based globally focused vertically integrated entertainment company involved in the production, visual effects, post production and financing of a diverse range of film and television properties.  Amongst the funding deals recently concluded by Omnilab Media are THE BANK JOB (Charles Roven, Roger Donaldson, Jason Statham), and THE MESSENGER (Mark Gordon, Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster).  Omnilab Media has also created a new digital film company with Kennedy Miller Mitchell to use groundbreaking digital storytelling, animation and visual effects. This will include HAPPY FEET 2, BABE 3 & MAD MAX  4 and a range of other blue-chip properties in development.

Christopher Mapp is Managing Director, Matthew Street Executive Director and David Whealy Executive Producer.

Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) is the visual entertainment division of Emperor Group, a long-established Hong Kong corporation.   The company produces feature films, TV series and other programming aimed at three distinct markets: local, Asian and international.  It works within a broad range of genres, languages and budgets, with the sole connecting factor being its demand for quality.  EMP is also developing its own videogame division to take advantage of the latest advances in home entertainment technology.  The company also operates its own management company, which creates and executes career strategies for some of Asia’s hottest talents.

Lionsgate is the leading independent filmed entertainment studio, winning the 2005 Best Picture Academy Award® for CRASH, and the Company is a premier producer and distributor of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment and video-on-demand content. Its prestigious and prolific library of nearly 12,000 motion picture titles and television episodes is a valuable source of recurring revenue and a foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the globe.

W is set to open in the US on October 17th.

> Read the full story at EW
> Entries for W. and Oliver Stone at the IMDb
> Find out more about George W. Bush at Wikipedia